Running Partners

I have a new running partner. Her name is Grace. Her family just got back from home ministries. Dawn (who goes walking with me so I can run) just went back to the States to get her daughter ready for college. So it was perfect timing. Grace has never been into running before but while on home ministries, someone suggested that she run. She seemed to like the idea and her parents asked if I could teach her what I know about running.

I was quite surprised because to be honest, I don’t know much about running. I actually really do not like running. I hate it. It hurts and it’s no fun. I’d much rather play a sport and get exercise while having fun because for me, running is far from fun. I only run here because girls rarely get a chance to play sports. So me sharing my running wisdom with Grace? Ok done in like 5 seconds.

The first day, we ran a little warm up. Then I told her what little I knew about breathing and form and technique. Then we just ran to see how far/fast she could go. I’m pretty sure she could have run farther and faster than me if she wanted. She ran faster than my usual pace and I had to push myself to keep up. I was more sore the next day than any day I’ve run by myself since I’ve been in Albania. Mainly because I was trying to keep up with her.

We’ve only been twice but something’s happening. I’m learning more about running and am being pushed harder during my runs. When I ran before, by myself, it was easy for me to just jog or if I got tired to quit since I was the only one running. No big deal.

But now I have Grace and I know she wants to learn about running. Even though I don’t know much, I want to help her. So I come up with different running workouts and things to focus on. I have had to refresh my memory on different workouts I’ve done throughout my athletic career. I’m having to learn with Grace.

She’s a great running partner though I feel she is helping me more than I am helping her. I don’t just give her advice, she pushes me to learn more, run faster and run harder. I feel like I’ve gotten more of a workout in the two days I’ve run with Grace than I have all the other days I’ve run by myself.

It’s the same way with Christ. We need a running partner. This may be in the form of mentors, Bible studies, discipleship, or even just fellowship with believers. But we need to have someone who will push us as we push them (even if we don’t feel equipped or ready to help them). Someone who will teach me as I teach them. Someone who will challenge me to run harder after Christ as I challenge them to do the same.

A lot of times, I have plenty of excuses why I can’t help someone grow in their faith. I feel like I’m not mature enough in my faith or I don’t know all the answers or I’m just not ready to disciple someone or mentor someone or lead a Bible study or small group. In reality, I will probably never be ready (in my mind). But Grace has reminded me that it doesn’t matter. We can learn together. We just need that running partner to hold us accountable.

When we have a running partner, we expect to teach, grow and challenge others but that’s not what’s going to happen. It’s true we can teach, grow and challenge people but they will also teach, grow and challenge us. And before you know it, you and your running partner will be running marathons.



Filed under Albania

3 responses to “Running Partners

  1. Jennifer

    So when’s you’re first Marathon?

  2. I’m Angie Faulstich, and I’m a member of the Aukerman’s home church back here in the States. I was teaching a 2 and 3 year old children’s class on Wednesday nights. While the Aukerman’s were home, Grace’s younger sister, Hannah, attended my class, and Grace stayed with her in my class so that Hannah would feel more comfortable. I absolutely loved having both of the girls in my class.

    Grace proved to be not only a blessing to her little sister, but also a blessing to us all. She was always so willing to help me with the little one’s with whatever needed to be done. She passed out snacks, helped Hannah tie her shoes, participated in skits, and even helped me a bit with my Bible knowledge.

    One Wed. night last winter, the kids in my class became restless. They were tired of being cooped up in one room for so long. So, I took them down to our gymnasium.

    The kids had a blast running and kicking and throwing balls. Soon, I became jealous of all of the fun they were having. I hadn’t excercised in a while, and I felt an urge to run. I’m not a runner, bu,t sometimes, I just get an urge to run. To sprint. I love the release of adrenaline. I love how it makes you feel free. And I do love to compete. So, I challenged the kids to a race, from one wall of the gym to the other.

    Before we started, I had to stretch a bit to prepare my 36 year old muscles. Then, I had everybody line up against the wall. The only true competition I had was my son, who, I knew that I could beat, and Grace. And I was sure that I was going to beat Grace, because I’m taller than her.

    So, I lined us all up and called it out. “On your mark, get set, go!” The race began. Grace and I were side by side, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was sure that I would be able to pull away and win the race just ast I always can with my son who, by the way, is taller than Grace. BUt,, I soon learned that in running, height doesn’t always matter. Midway down the stretch, I couldn’t believe what happened! Grace pulled away from ME! And she won by a HUGE margin. I was so bummed. But so thrilled for her!

    After I caught my breath, I asked Grace, “Are you a runner? Do you ever run?” I couldn’t believe it when she said no! I was heart broken when she told me that girls don’t really run much in Albania, and that there wasn’t much room to run. Still, I encouraged her. I told if there was a way, she should really go for it. I could she had natural talent, speed, and skill, and I hoped that she loved beating me and loved to run.

    After our Wed. night classes broke for the summer, I didn’t see Grace much. So I was thrilled to run into them on their last Sun. morning at church before they left for home. And I was so thrilled to hear that Grace now had a new pair of running shoes AND a running partner! I’m so thrilled to meet you, Grace’s running partner (unofficially, of course) and to hear your story of how you and Grace are already running together! I’m not a bit surprised to hear that Grace is urging you on and inspiring you, as you aspire to do the same for her. Please keep telling us stories of your runs with Grace! I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for her!

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